Does PokerStars Accept US players?
After the fateful Black Friday in 2011, PokerStars no longer accepts US poker players, though it caters to millions of players from other countries across the world. PokerStars is the biggest and most popular online poker site on the web and is known for offering the best tournaments and games. It was launched on September11, 2001 as a ‘play money only’ site and then started real money gambling on December 12 in the same year. PokerStars is currently licensed by Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission in UK and AAMS (Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato) in Italy.
The PokerStars Journey
PokerStars was initially a Costa Rican firm owned by Israel’s Scheinberg family. Then, the firm was transferred to British Crown dependent, Isle of Man. After the transfer, the site started accepting poker and casino bets from USA.
Later, PokerStars was involved in many media speculations regarding a merger with a public company. In 2006, when the US government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, PokerStars left behind PartyPoker and became the biggest online poker site in the world. Many casino and poker sites including PartyPoker stopped business with the US players, but PokerStars, along with few other poker sites, initially did not.
Black Friday of Poker
The Black Friday of poker has been one of the unfortunate events that affected the US online poker industry. A series of raids was conducted secretly by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and DOJ (Department of Justice) on 15 April, 2011. The raid accused owners of major online poker and casino operators like PokerStars, Full Tilt and Ultimate Bet of various charges including the unethical use of money that they earned from gambling. The charge against PokerStars was that it tricked financial institutions to process payments for gambling, challenging the UIGEA act.
PokerStars was seized and closed by the Attorney Office in Southern District of New York, since it was believed that it violated Federal bank’s money laundering and fraud laws. Since then, PokerStars stopped US players from playing for real money and changed the company’s URL from PokerStars.com to PokerStars.eu. The domain name PokerStars.com was given back to the company on 15 April, 2011, by the Attorney’s office in the US.
PokerStars and US players
PokerStars assured their US poker players that their balances on the site were safe. Though the site does not accept real money bets from US players, the US government ordered it to return the balance money of all their US players. Unlike Full Tilt Poker, all US PokerStars players have been repiad in full.
Is it the end of PokerStars in the US?
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) does not make online poker in the US illegal. However, the act stops all the financial institutions in USA from processing transactions related to online gambling activities. Because of this, many online poker rooms, including PokerStars, cannot operate in the country. Hopefully, when and if online poker is legalized in the US, PokerStars should be able to step into the US market again and regain its lost glory. However, there is a school of thought which suggests that because Poker stars is in trouble for what they have already done, they will be permanently blocked from re-entering the US market.